(This essay first appeared in the Times Advocate Newspaper May 24, 2017)
It is unsettling when I hear the phrase, "The Costs of War".
And every year around Memorial Day, discussions inevitably turn to whether or not wars are worth the costs. What bothers me is the misuse of the language. We should never suggest that war has a cost; in America, war is the cost of freedom.
Yes, it is very expensive! Just ask the millions who have died for the cause, and the millions of survivors of those who died in the defense of freedom.
Americans are unique in the world because we don't settle our political differences with violence. We only use or partake in war when some other group tries to restrict our freedom, or the freedom of one of our allies. And we do pay a heavy price, which is something some younger citizens can easily overlook. Since the Revolutionary War, America has sacrificed just under three million Americans to secure the freedoms too many of us take for granted.
Think about that for a moment; three million men and women voluntarily suffered a brutal death so you and I could spend this weekend barbecuing hot dogs and hamburgers. And that doesn't come close to accounting for the millions and millions of servicemen and women who have been seriously maimed, psychologically damaged, and their families fractured by the damages incurred by war.
And what about the children, maybe two or three times as many people, most of whom, were very young at the time, having the direction of their lives drastically changed by the loss or destruction of a parent.
So the 'Costs of War' is a terrible phrase, a misplaced and misleading characterization of something that is very noble. Talking about war in that manner is an insult to our friends, our fathers and grandfathers, our sons and daughters, and our moms and other family members who paid the ultimate price only because they believed so strongly that if there was anything in life worth sacrificing their life for, it was the concept that all men should be free.
They gave their lives for us, freely and with the conviction that we would continue to do whatever was necessary to protect that basic human right for ourselves and our children. And those who come behind us that also cherish the precious idea that all men are created equal by God, and deserve to live in freedom, to pursue happiness and health and to have their government, made up of like minded men and women, help them by answering to them, not the other way around.
The next time you hear someone use that horrible phrase, please, stop them in their tracks, and politely refresh their memory, correct their grammar, and set them right.
War is a horrible thing. It is disgusting, sickening and repugnant. But living in servitude is not living at all. The best way to prevent both unacceptable conditions is to fiercely protect freedom once you have it, because losing your freedom is cheap, and in most cases it cannot be bought back at any price.
God bless our lost and damaged brothers and sisters of freedom! We love you and thank you from the bottom of our hearts! We pledge to honor your sacrifice and service, not just this Memorial Day, but every single day of our lives.